By Alison Weiss
From October 1 through October 5, Oracle OpenWorld 2017 brought together top technologists and IT leaders for immersive, interactive demonstrations and deep dives into cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions at both Oracle and customer companies. The conference hosted 60,000 attendees from 175 countries; offered 2,300 sessions; provided a speaking platform for more than 3,000 customers and partners; and featured more than 500 Oracle technology sessions, demos, and case studies.
Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison’s opening keynote is always a highlight of the conference, and in this year’s address Ellison told a rapt audience that he has seen the future of IT: autonomous, adaptive, self-managing systems that are more secure than ever.
This is a big deal, by the way. No one else does this. This is the most important thing we’ve done in a long, long time.”–Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison
That future has arrived, Ellison revealed, in the form of Oracle Database 18c, which he described as the world’s first 100 percent “self-driving” autonomous database. This new release is an even more reliable, lower-cost next generation of the company’s flagship database, Ellison said.
Oracle Database 18c’s self-patching and self-tuning capabilities, powered by machine learning—a “technology that’s every bit as revolutionary as the internet,” Ellison said—will minimize human intervention and virtually eliminate human error, helping reduce security risks while freeing database managers to focus on higher-level work.
“This is a big deal, by the way. No one else does this,” Ellison said, adding, “This is the most important thing we’ve done in a long, long time.”
Security concerns, and investments in ways to address those concerns, were also top of mind during Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s keynote. Hurd cited security as one of the reasons more companies are shifting more of their IT workloads to cloud service providers such as Oracle.
Business managers are saying, “I want to move this risk. I want to move this complexity. I want to move this cost,” Hurd recounted. “I want to move it from here to there—i.e., from you to me.”
Hurd noted that corporate IT budgets continue to be flat in many companies. With more than 80 percent of those budgets typically allocated to things like patching, upgrading systems, and maintenance, that leaves little funding for investing in the kinds of modern applications and customer touchpoints that consumers and business customers alike expect.
Such budget constraints, along with the current economic climate and rapid pace of disruption across industries, are driving companies to the cloud in an effort to quickly free up resources for investment in customer-facing innovation. “The movement to cloud is an inevitable destination,” Hurd continued. “This is how computing will evolve over the next several years.”
The Path Ahead
The security theme was echoed once again when Amit Zavery, senior vice president of product development for Oracle Cloud Platform, laid out the Oracle Cloud Platform roadmap in an Oracle OpenWorld general session.
In particular, Zavery offered the example of the new Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service. Blockchain is a cloud-based distributed ledger that can be used in business-to-business partner ecosystems for more-secure transactions and data sharing, and Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service is built on Hyperledger Fabric, the open source effort led by the Linux Foundation to spur cross-industry blockchain standards.
While Zavery emphasized the importance of keeping Oracle’s cloud platform open, he noted that open doesn’t mean undifferentiated. He pointed out that Oracle enhances the best open source innovations with the tools for management, security, development, and high-performance infrastructure that companies need to put them to practical use.
In addition, Oracle makes sure companies are ready for the big idea that’s sure to come next. Said Zavery, “We have a technically unified and proven PaaS [platform as a service] offering, completely based on open standards, delivering continuous innovation.”
Showcasing that innovation through demos was the core of Oracle President of Product Development Thomas Kurian’s keynote, which mapped out the technology path ahead for Oracle. That path includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, and new human interfaces, Kurian said, adding that these emerging technologies now fit into the vision Oracle has had since it started building its cloud offerings more than a decade ago: Let anyone, anywhere in the world, access the power of all of Oracle’s technologies using only a browser or a phone.
If you lose data, that’s a big problem. And that’s fundamentally what . . . our system is designed to protect against.”–Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison
“We’re going to show you not just the new innovations we have in Oracle Cloud, but also a glimpse into the future of Oracle, of how we’re infusing the new technologies of autonomous computing, artificial intelligence, IoT [Internet of Things], blockchain, and new forms of human interface into our cloud offering,” Kurian said.
For more in-depth coverage of the topics he explored, see our interview with Kurian in this issue.
Finally, in his second keynote of the conference, Larry Ellison introduced the industry’s first cloud-native, integrated security and systems management suite: the Oracle Identity Security Operations Center portfolio of services coupled with Oracle Management Cloud.
Like Oracle Database 18c, these integrated cloud services rely on machine learning—a particular application of machine learning designed to help companies forecast, quickly detect, and ward off security attacks as well as system performance issues.
“The real problem is loss of information,” Ellison said. “If your system is down and you can’t sell tickets or sell flashlights or whatever you’re doing on your online system, that’s not good—you’d like the system to be available all the time. But you don’t get called in front of Congress for that. If you lose data, that’s a big problem. And that’s fundamentally what . . . our system is designed to protect against.”
It’s not too soon to sign up to be notified when registration is open for both conferences, Oracle OpenWorld and JavaOne, which take place October 22 through October 25, 2018, in San Francisco.
Photography by Charlotte Fiorito/compassphotographers.com, Tue Nam Ton, Margot Hartford, Sandra Garcia